Number : Season 25, episode 2 of 4.
Which One : Evil Bertie Basset!
Cast : The Doctor : Sylvester McCoy
Ace : Sophie Aldred
Helen A : Sheila Hancock
Joseph C : Ronald Fraser
Daisy K : Georgina Hale
Gilbert M : Harold Innocent
Susan Q : Lesley Dunlop
Priscilla P : Rachel Bell
Silas P : Jonathan Burn
Harold V : Tim Barker
Kandy Man : David John Pope
Trevor Sigma : John Normington
Earl Sigma : Richard D. Sharp
Forum Doorman : Tim Scott
Killjoy : Mary Healey
Snipers : Steve Swinscoe, Mark Carroll
Wences : Philip Neve
Wulfric : Ryan Freedman
Newscaster : Annie Hulley
Written By : Graeme Curry
Produced By : JNT
First UK Broadcast : 2 – 16 November 1988
Length : 3 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor and Ace visit the planet of Terra Alpha and experience the enforced fun and happiness of its despotic ruler; Helen A.
Whats good : Unintentionally funny. Some attempt at a ‘Maggie Thatcher’ – influenced political satire. The Tardis gets spray painted pink.
Whats bad : The Kandyman – marked a low point in the show. Is cited as one of the [many] reasons Who was eventually cancelled.
Review With Spoilers : The Happiness Patrol is the 2nd episode of season 25 and punctuates a strong season of anniversary stories, by being a completely bad egg.
It is easy to hate The Happiness Patrol as a low point in Who history and believe me, I do. I don’t hate the thought behind it, or it’s intended origins, though; which were an attempt to write a parody of Thatcher’s Britain.
The problem with The Happiness Patrol is in its execution. The performances are pure pantomime, the humour forced and it really has no lace amongst the showcase anniversary 25th season.
This brings us to the very embodiment of what is also wrong with The Happiness Patrol; the Kandyman.
The drooling, homicidal – ‘Bertie Basset on speed’ – executioner for Helen A, is bizarre and in the same token; the most ridiculous monster – ever featured in Doctor Who.
At times, it is like watching a homicidal Mr Blobby running around the set of Noel’s House Party, except in this, the contestants get gunged – to death.
“Definitely. Something very nasty’s happening here, and we’ve got to put a stop to it, quickly!” The Doctor
Bassett sweets were less than amused and after threatening the Beeb, the Kandyman was consigned to the sweet tin – with an agreement never to return.
It wasn’t just the Kandyman, though; founding producer Verity Lamb said that this was the episode that firmed her own view that 80’s Who had become an “irreverant pantomime” and “pale imitation of its 60s and 70s – glory years”.
The Happiness Patrol is frequently featured in polls for the worst Who, worst sci-fi, or even the worst moments on TV. It’s not a legacy you really want attached to the show.
What was even more bizarre was; McCoy’s definite worst episode featured in the sane season as his best his best; Remembrance Of The Daleks and Silver Nemesis . So there was really no excuse really for adding this episode to such a good season of stories. The script had a burgeoning stab at political humour in it but as usual – the execution let it down.
A lame duck, in an otherwise excellent 25th anniversary season.
Watch The Happiness Patrol On Archive.org :